Everyone knows that brushing your teeth and flossing are very important, but did you know that saliva also plays a very big role in your oral health? While we do not have as much power over our saliva production as we do over the health of our teeth, there are a few ways you can ensure that your child is producing the right amount of saliva needed for excellent oral health at a young age. Read on to learn more about all the great things saliva does for us, and how you can support healthy saliva production!
What is saliva?
Saliva, also known as spit, is a clear liquid that is produced by the salivary glands in the mouth. These glands are found on the inside of each cheek, under the tongue, and under the jaw at the very front of the mouth. These glands secrete about 2 to 4 pints of spit per day! Saliva is produced 24 hours a day, and is mostly made up of water and chemicals naturally produced by your body.
How does saliva affect my child’s oral health?
Did you know that saliva actually serves a great purpose in our oral health? Saliva helps clean your teeth and mouth between meals, and it helps rinse food particles from between your teeth. Saliva also makes eating possible! It would be very difficult to chew a sandwich or other dry foods without saliva to get the food wet in your mouth. The enzymes in saliva actually helps reduce bad bacteria in your mouth too. Spit contains proteins that help protect tooth enamel and can even reduce bad breath!
What else does saliva do?
As pediatric dentists, we are most interested in the ways that saliva keeps your child’s smile clean and healthy. However, saliva also serves several other very important functions! Saliva contains enzymes that aid digestion by breaking down food before it even reaches the stomach, which jump starts the process. Saliva also helps your tongue taste the delicious food you’re eating! A dry tongue would not be able to properly taste food. That would be a bummer!
How do I make sure my child is producing the right amount of saliva?
Most young people actually produce the right amount of saliva naturally. However, dry mouth can occur as a side effect of certain medications and medical conditions. Hydration can also affect saliva production, as spit is mostly made of water. Make sure your child is drinking enough water, especially during the summer and during exercise!
Wow, saliva is awesome! If you are concerned about your child’s oral health, schedule their first appointment with us today!